Morning Report: Some Possible Late Round Sleeper Picks

While doing the player pages for the new draft picks this year, I ended up writing just over half of the pages from day three. So today I wanted to look at some interesting players from that group. If you missed it from last night, we are already hearing rumors about draft picks signing, or planning to sign. No deals will be official just yet as the players need to take their physical first and actually sign the contracts, but we have some pretty good information about who has already agreed to sign. It is typical for a large group of players to all sign right away so the Pirates can get them assigned to their short-season teams and most deals are worked out ahead of time.

You can find all of the player pages on our draft tracker page, which will be updated when players officially sign. After the draft was done, the Pirates held a conference call and talked about the possibilities of signing some over-slot players after the tenth round. Below are some of the players I read up on and really liked their potential. If you see a player missing below from day three that you thought had potential, it’s probably because I didn’t do their prospect page and haven’t had a chance to really look into the others yet.

One of my favorites has already said he is turning pro. Nicholas Economos is all about potential. He is a 6’6″ righty, with room to add some muscle. He turns 20 later this month, but already has two year of college experience. Economos has reportedly hit 95 MPH and he has put up big strikeout numbers in college. There is a downside, and that is control issues. Anytime you can get a big arm into your system that is still projectable, that is a good thing. He was taken in the 21st round, so that looks like a solid late round pick.

Speaking of height, how about two tall lefty pitchers, who just happen(I assume) to have commitments to the same small college in Texas.  Chris Falwell is another pitcher that didn’t put up great stats in 2015, but there is a lot of upside. He throws low-90’s with deception and at 6’6″, 195 pounds, he could easily add 30 pounds to his frame. He is 20 years old and hasn’t put in many innings the last two years of college, which means he has a fresh arm.

Falwell was taken in the 29th round, ten rounds after Ike Schlabach. He is 6’5″, 205 pounds and just 18 years old. He was the second high school player the Pirates picked in the entire draft and first since Ke’Bryan Hayes, who was drafted #32 overall. Schlabach is going to cost more than slot to sign due to his potential/upside, but he could be worth it. He touches low-90’s with his fastball already and just like Falwell there is room to add muscle to his frame. The difference is that Schlabach is 20 months younger.

Those three give you a trio of tall projectable pitchers, but day three of the draft wasn’t just about pitching. The Pirates took outfielder Jake McCarthy in the 23rd round out of Scranton HS. His brother Joe McCarthy was someone we talked about often, as there were rumors that the Pirates had an interest in drafting him. It is interesting that they ended up drafting his brother, who just happens to have a commitment to the same school(Virginia) that his brother will be leaving, assuming he signs as a fifth round pick with the Rays.

The Pirates apparently spent a lot of time with the younger McCarthy, with word that they held extra batting practices for him after games on multiple occasions and followed him all season. That sounds like there could be a lot of interest, but bonus demands probably caused him to drop in the draft. McCarthy is a very athletic player, excelling at football and basketball when he wasn’t playing baseball. He has plus speed and puts in good at-bats at the plate. While there are no rumors yet about him signing, or what he would need to sign, it’s apparent that the interest is there and he could be one of the players that the Pirates decide to go over slot to get.

One final note and that was the news we heard on Eli White, the 37th round pick. I intended to include the Clemson shortstop in this article until we got word that his coach at Clemson said he expects him to return next season(see rumors link above). White is a draft-eligible sophomore, so he has a lot of leverage in negotiations.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates defeated the Brewers by a 2-0 score on Wednesday. They have off today, then play three games at PNC Park against the Philadelphia Phillies starting on Friday night. Jeff Locke will be on the mound for the Pirates, opposing former Pirate pitcher Kevin Correia, making his Phillies debut.

In the minors, Jayson Aquino gets his sixth start since joining the Pirates. He started off great with seven shutout innings, then had two very poor outings. That was followed up by two strong outings, in which he gave up one earned run over 12 total innings. Zack Dodson is fifth in the Eastern League in ERA and his 1.05 WHIP ranks sixth in the league. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (32-27) vs Phillies (22-39) 7:05 PM 6/12
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (5.37 ERA, 25:49 BB/SO, 62.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (38-23) vs Gwinnett (29-29) 7:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Chris Volstad (3.77 ERA, 21:39 BB/SO, 62.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (35-22) @ Reading (32-26) 7:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Zack Dodson (2.52 ERA, 9:26 BB/SO, 60.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (27-32) vs Clearwater (29-30) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jayson Aquino (3.72 ERA, 8:18 BB/SO, 29.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (34-25) vs Savannah (32-27) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (4.59 ERA, 11:37 BB/SO, 51.0 IP)

DSL: Pirates (4-6) vs Tigers (6-4) 10:30 AM  (season preview)


Here’s a video of Josh Bell’s third homer of the season. Altoona has now homered in 14 straight games. Early in the season, they were last in the Eastern League in homers.

Recent Transactions

6/10: Yhonathan Barrios promoted to Indianapolis.

6/9: John Holzkom activated from Indianapolis disabled list

6/9: Brett McKinney promoted to Altoona. Ryan Hafner added to Bradenton roster.

6/7: Pirates release Tyler Sample.

6/5: Justin Sellers assigned to Bradenton on rehab.

6/5: Charlie Leesman placed on Indianapolis disabled list.

6/5: Francisco Diaz activated from WV Power disabled list.

6/5: Kawika Emsley-Pai promoted to Bradenton roster. Jin-De Jhang assigned to Extended Spring Training.

6/3: Pirates outright Radhames Liz to Indianapolis.

5/29: Andy Vasquez added to Altoona roster.

5/29: Keon Broxton promoted to Indianapolis. Adam Miller placed on disabled list.

5/29: Jeff Roy activated from West Virginia disabled list. Andy Otamendi assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/28: Jose Osuna promoted to Altoona. Jordan Steranka added to Bradenton.

5/28: Andy Otamendi added to WV Power roster. Trace Tam Sing assigned to WV Black Bears.


This Date in Pirates History

Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, both played significant roles with the team. Starting with second baseman Dave Cash, who played for the Pirates from 1969 until 1973. The Pirates signed him as a fifth round draft pick out of high school in 1966 and it didn’t take long for him to make it to the big leagues. During the championship season of 1971, he played 123 games, which was his high while with Pittsburgh. Cash hit .289 during the regular season, then had a .421 average during the NLCS. He struggled during the World Series, going 4-for-30, but the Pirates won it in seven games over the Orioles. After the 1973 season, he was traded to the Phillies for pitcher Ken Brett. Cash ended up making the All-Star team three straight years in Philadelphia.

Also born on this date was outfielder Frank Thomas, who played for the Pirates from 1951 until 1958. He hit .275 with the Pirates, belting 163 homers and driving in 562 runs in 925 games. His home run total ranks seventh in team history. Thomas was part of a big trade that helped the Pirates win the 1960 World Series. In 1959, he was dealt to the Reds in a trade that brought back Smoky Burgess, Don Hoak and Harvey Haddix. During the 1958 season, he finished fourth in the MVP voting and made his third All-Star team.

A late addition to the former players born on this date, infielder Brock Holt, who played for the 2012 Pirates before being sent to the Red Sox in the Joel Hanrahan/Mark Melancon deal. He isn’t included in the link above, which was written before he made the majors, but I’m pretty sure you know who he is anyway.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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This homerun from Bell was quite undewhelming. That doesn’t even sniff the warning track at PNC


Reading is a bit of a launching pad.


Thanks john, now follow the watch, you are getting sleepy, very sleepy…. uh oh! Ya better drink a monster quick!


This is purely conjecture, but I do wonder if Huntington & Co misread the draft a bit, given his comments on the large number of kids asking for insane bonuses.

The Kramer pick, in the second round, seems like the spot where the club was hoping to save the most money to use later on. In hindsight, I wonder if they would’ve targeted higher end, more expensive talent with that pick knowing they didn’t really need to save much for after the 10th?


How do we know that? No money has changed hands yet. You may be right, it’s just a bit early to think that right now.


But I don’t think it takes a giant leap of imagination to foresee a college sign with very limited upside going for less than slot in round two. The team almost certainly could shave a good chunk off slot and still get Kramer.


Kramer is definitely without any negotiating power, and I hope the Pirates had somebody in mind for that money saved. If the kid at #1 can stick at SS we have a steal; if not the Pirates have another 2B candidate to add to the 5 or 6 already under contract.

Thanks for the info on the two lefties John


It’s almost as if I didn’t start off my comment by saying “This is purely conjecture…”.


Trevor Cahill DFA’s by the Braves. Seems like a perfect candidate for the Benedict/Searage school of rehab. No?


DFA’d, so the question is- what is he being paid?


$12m with $5.5m picked up by the D’backs with two options at around $13m.

Better off season target than mid-year project.


Not worth it


Hmm, interesting, very interesting.


Oppo line drive homer for Bell. That swing looked effortless. The promotions so far this year have been odd. I guess there is such a log jam at certain positions that it’s tough to move anyone anywhere.


John….Brock Holt was also born on this date (I do this same feature for the PBC Asylum). But, you’re allowed to miss one because of all the draft day stuff you had to do. 🙂 🙂 🙂


nothing good happens after 2 AM. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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